Busted: Popular Myths About Japan Debunked

Busted: Popular Myths About Japan Debunked
Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan, Photo Credit: Unsplash

Find out the truth behind some commonly accepted myths about Japan

Roshni Subramanian
October 04 , 2019
05 Min Read

Japan never fails to surprise you. With a rich culture, fascinating history and strong ethics, it sure makes for a one-in-a-lifetime visit. But despite the fast growth of tourism in the country, there is a section that is still reluctant to visit Japan. We agree. It can be quite a daunting experience for a first - time visitor. And all thanks to pop culture (read: crazy television game shows), this country has earned a reputation of being ‘strange’ and ‘weird’. The inaccurate stereotypes and misconceptions has not only made the hesitant visitors even more nervous but has also driven the locals quite crazy. To set the record straight, these notions are not only exaggerated and downright outlandish but is an elaborate scheme by sensationalist news outlets. Known for being the epicenter of all things whacky and funky, here are some stereotypes that the Japanese folks completely despise.

Japan is expensive

A commonly cited reason for avoiding Japan as a travel destination is that it's really expensive

One of the main aspects to consider when visiting a foreign country is the expenses that one might have to incur during the stay. A common reason why most visitors strike off Japan from their travel bucket list is the belief that it is highly expensive. We agree that Japan’s capital Tokyo has often featured in the list of most expensive countries around the globe. But what you might not know is that this notion originated in the 1980’s and is still doing the rounds till date. While Japan may seem expensive when compared to countries like Thailand and Vietnam, but is way cheaper in comparison to travel destinations like Switzerland and Amsterdam.

Everybody loves Anime

Obsessive anime fans are called Otaku in Japan

Japan is the birthplace of anime and is home to shoes like Pokemon and Naruto. But to say that every Japanese person is obsessed with anime, manga and cosplay is a bit of a generalization. While there are some die - hard anime fans here, but for the majority it’s nothing more than teenage fad. Even outside the ‘anime capital’ Akhibara, one might find it quite difficult to spot a person who’s into cosplay. 

Slurping is a mark of appreciation

There's a common myth that slurping is considered polite in Japan

One of the most commonly accepted and convenient misconceptions is that slurping ramen is a polite gesture in Japan and is in fact an act of appreciation of the food and the chef. Well, the truth is, while the act of slurping in itself is not looked down upon, it’s in no way encouraged. The Japanese are in fact indifferent to the whole notion about slurping and the taboo attached to it. 

Japanese food is all about sushi and ramen

Sushi is the most popular Japanese food

The first thing that comes to most peoples’ minds when they hear Japanese cuisine is sushi and ramen. Sure, traditional Japanese food includes copious amounts of raw fish, but in addition to that the Japanese cuisine does offer a great variety. From udon noodles to soba noodles to miso soup and tempura, the options are endless here.

Language barrier

Japanese people don't speak English

Japan can be one of the most intimidating countries for a native English speaker. The language barrier often keeps lot of travellers from planning a Japanese holiday. But in reality, it is quite easy to get around the city without knowing Japanese at all. While knowing the basics of the local language can earn you brownie points, but even without knowing a lick of Japanese it’s quite easy to navigate around. 

Japan is extremely crowded and chaotic

Shibuya intersection, Tokyo

From the pictures that have gone viral on the internet, it’s quite easy to assume that cities like Tokyo and Kyoto are packed with huge crowds of people all the time. Well, to be honest, this is partially true, as the crowd rushing through, during the peak hours at Tokyo’s infamous Shibuya crossing is beyond imagination. While we may agree with the fact that Japan is crowded, it is in no way chaotic. In fact, Tokyo is one of the most organised cities in terms of transportation. Their railway system is extremely punctual and efficient and with a high speed bullet train like Shinkansen, getting from one place to another is extremely smooth.

The only places worth visiting in Japan are Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka

Okinawa island, Japan

Ever come across someone who claims to have visited Japan but in reality has only visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka? We won’t be surprised if you have. While most flights land in these major cities, Japan is home to some beautiful, quaint little towns that are worth a trip. Next time you’re in Japan, pay a visit to Fukuoka or Okinawa island or experience the coming of fall at Hokkaido. You can also head to Okunoshima island which is home to hundreds of rabbits.


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